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What Should I Expect from a Pilates Class?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 January 2018
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There’s a difference between what people should expect from a pilates class and what they might receive. There is vast variety in pilates classes so it’s important to evaluate requirements prior to attending classes, and find the most appropriate classes based on them. Once people develop a set of expectations, they can also determine what specific classes might require of them in terms of fitness and skill level.

A pilates class in most gyms and recreation centers is usually mat work. This involves a number of exercises emphasizing core muscles, many of them performed while lying on a mat. There are other classes that utilize pilates machines in addition to or instead of mat work.

The latter are usually taught to one or two students at most, and are individually designed for each student, whereas mat work is more general and tends to be less expensive. Mat classes may be separated into beginning, intermediate and advanced work, and it’s important to determine if level of experience fits the class, or sometimes a class has different levels of difficulty and the instructor offers modified poses for beginners. A growing trend is the many pilates class hybrids that blend this form of exercise with other exercise methods like yoga, ballet, or dance aerobics.

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Given the variety of things that can be called a pilates class, people will need to decide what they want. Those seeking mat work only classes should concentrate on finding classes that are at a level of difficulty that challenges them without being too advanced for their experience. It is possible to be injured by attempting too much too soon. Once a specific type of class and difficulty is chosen, people may want to give some thought to expectations of the class environment and some questions they could ask consider are the following:

  • Is the instructor easy to understand?
  • Does the instructor help students make adjustments that improve their workout?
  • What is the experience level of the instructor?
  • Are the facilities where the class is held comfortable, convenient, and clean?
  • Will the class times work with schedule?

Most times a mat pilates class will have expectations that students will bring equipment for the class, and the most important of these things is a mat. Instructors might have mats to loan but it’s hard to ascertain how often these are cleaned. People buying a mat should not purchase a yoga mat. Pilates mats usually have more cushioning, which can help increase comfort of the lower back. Instructors may also use other equipment like bars, rings or long towels, and it may be a good idea to find out exactly what’s needed prior to beginning a class. If it’s a first pilates class, probably bringing a mat only is fine, because the instructor likely has extra equipment to loan.

The final expectation of a pilates class should be that people feel they have gotten a good, non-injurious workout. Many people find immediate payoffs in increased good mood and relaxation that classes may bring. Longer work with pilates may add additional benefits, such as seeing muscle tone and elasticity improve.

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